I have been asked scores of times, “Have the Gipsies an alphabet of their own? have they grammars of their language, dictionaries, or books?” Of course my answer was in the negative. I have heard of vocabularies in use among crypto-Rommanies, or those who having risen from the roads live a secret life, so to speak, but I have never seen one. But they have songs; and one day I was told that in my neighbourhood there lived a young Gipsy woman who was a poetess and made Rommany ballads. “She can’t write,” said my informant; “but her husband’s a Gorgio, and he can. If you want them, I’ll get you some.” The offer was of course accepted, and the Gipsy dame, flattered by the request, sent me the following. The lyric is without rhyme, but, as sung, not without rhythm.
“GILLI OF A RUMMANY JUVA.
“Die at the gargers (Gorgios),
The gargers round mandy!
Trying to lel my meripon,
My meripon (meripen) away.
I will care (kair) up to my chungs
Up to my chungs in Rat,
All for my happy Racler (raklo).
My mush is lelled to sturribon (staripen),
To sturribon, to sturribon;
Mymush is lelled to sturribon,
To the Tan where mandy gins (jins).”
“Look at the Gorgios, the Gorgios around me! trying to take my life away.
“I will wade up to my knees in blood, all for my happy boy.
“My husband is taken to prison, to prison, to prison; my husband is taken to prison, to the place of which I know.”
CHAPTER X. GIPSIES IN EGYPT.
Difficulty of obtaining Information.—The Khedive on the Gipsies.—Mr Edward Elias.—Mahomet introduces me to the Gipsies.—They call themselves Tataren.—The Rhagarin or Gipsies at Boulac.—Cophts.—Herr Seetzen on Egyptian Gipsies.—The Gipsy with the Monkey in Cairo.—Street-cries of the Gipsy Women in Egypt. Captain Newbold on the Egyptian Gipsies.
Since writing the foregoing pages, and only a day or two after one of the incidents therein described, I went to Egypt, passing the winter in Cairo and on the Nile. While waiting in the city for the friend with whom I was to ascend the mysterious river, it naturally occurred to me, that as I was in the country which many people still believe is the original land of the Gipsies, it would be well worth my while to try to meet with some, if any were to be found.